Franklyn Turbak

Portrait by David Gifford
Other photos

I am an Associate Professor in the Computer Science Department at Wellesley College. I started here in 1995 after receiving my bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in Computer Science from MIT.

My passion is the study of programs and programming languages, which is at the heart of both my teaching and research. My interests include the design, analysis, and implementation of expressive programming languages, graphical representations of programs, and the visualization of computational processes. I am co-author of the textbook Design Concepts in Programming Languages.

In my courses and programming environments, I embrace constructionist learning principles that encourage people to view themselves as designers and inventors. Together with Robbie Berg in the Wellesley Physics Department, I developed the Robotic Design Studio course for introducing liberal arts students to engineering. I have also taught Wellesley's Introduction to Engineering course, which serves as a bridge to engineering opportunities at Olin College and MIT. In Fall, 2011, I created a new course, Inventing Mobile Apps, in which students without previous programming experience designed and built apps for Android smartphones using App Inventor, a visual programming language in which programs are composed out of blocks that snap together.

I currently lead two projects: the TinkerBlocks project, whose goal is to create more expressive block programming languages; and Rapid Prototyping For Everyone, whose goal is to increase accessibility to the laser cutter, vinyl cutter, and 3D printer in Wellesley's Engineering Studio.

My hero is Captain Abstraction.

Here is the whole book jacket.

The Book

Design Concepts in Programming Languages
by Franklyn Turbak and David Gifford with Mark Sheldon
Published by MIT Press in July, 2008

Last updated March 04, 2012